Oprah’s Factory Farm Faux Pas

May 6, 2009 at 7:29 pm 3 comments

Twitter is buzzing about Oprah at the moment, and not regards to the quanity of her followers.  Apparently she’s promoting KFC’s new grilled chicken giveaway. Though feeding people is a good thing, this promotion is a bad thing because Oprah has said she’s opposed to factory farming and KFC, obviously, gets their meat from factory farms, which are obviously not good. The saga is well summarized here.  At first I was really excited to retweet the protests (check the tag #oprahkfc if you’re interested) and get in on the action. I mean, really Oprah, what were you thinking?  Factory farms are terrible!

But then I got to thinking about it. How often do I promote something (businesses, restaurants, activities) that actually has underlying negative aspects? Nothing anymore is clear cut.  If I were Oprah (and its probably good I’m not) I probably wouldn’t have given the chickens’ origin a second thought. Same as I usually don’t think about the origin of the food at the restaurants I promote on this blog, or the conditions of the factories at the stores I buy my clothes from. Yes, ideally I would, but it just doesn’t seem practical to do so all the time.

I realize that Oprah is a very public figure and PETA’s 2008 person of the year. She shouldn’t be promoting companies that utilize factory farms. But I suspect she was more interested in helping people get a free meal than she was factory farms when she made the decision to support KFC. Hunger is an important issue, poverty is increasing in this economic downturn.  A free meal could make someone’s day.  I’m opposed to factory farming, but I’d rather people eat Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner than not have any food at all. I’m gonna cut Oprah a little slack on this one.

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  • 1. laila  |  May 6, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Hunger is a real issue that’s not solved by giving out low-quality, unhealthy, garbage food for one day. Period. It doesn’t help anything and does nothing to increase awareness about the real issues at hand with hunger. It’s yet another corporate band-aid.

    Not to mention, aside from the PETA award, Oprah started 2009 with a big bonanza about good health, fighting obesity and making positive lifestyle changes. Her support and marketing of KFC undermines all of her credibility with respect to those issues.

    It was a terrible move for countless reasons. And it shouldn’t be defended.

    • 2. Em  |  May 6, 2009 at 7:59 pm

      It was certainly not the brightest thing to do. I wish she hadn’t done it. I’m choosing to cut Oprah a bit of slack instead of crucifying her, however. Even Oprah can’t be perfect all the time. Maybe the press will generate even more positive press and education about hunger, nutrition and factory farming?

    • 3. Brian  |  May 7, 2009 at 6:58 am

      I feel that every bit helps in this case. Even if it is not the best food on the earth a company like KFC and a woman like Oprah doing something like this generates conversation and awareness.

      For example, my students put on a Hunger Banquet at their high school and 80 people showed up. Now those 80 people did not solve the issue of local hunger but it did help generate some awareness and focus on the issue. Who knows how this one event will affect them 5, maybe 20 years from now. Anything is better than nothing.

      Also, if we were to follow your logic giving money to Red Cross is bad because that money will be used to transport aid groups and supplies to people, which in turn will generate pollution and further harm our environment just like “chicken factory farms.”

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